For centuries artists have played with our heads by creating illusions that lead us out of ourselves and into dreamy realms. James Shilaimon’s paintings follow that tradition.
Using sharply linear imagery, Shilaimon evokes emotion in modern home exterior paintings like a real-enough-to-smell Rembrandt flower. Other times his soaring spiritually laden infinity pools ensconce the viewer like a Michelangelo ceiling.
Perhaps Shilaimon uses more visual slight-of-hand to get viewers to another place than did Michelangelo, but like Michelangelo, he uses the majesty of light to do the heavy lifting.
When one looks below the surface of Shilaimon’s Utopian modern spaces something more captivating than simple homages to a room form. A sense of surreal escape driven by otherworldly colors and wide angle perspectives emerge with subtle placement of a visiting figure resting quietly, beautifully.
Shilaimon began drawing figures to escape a troubled, impoverished background. While other children played ball, he sat on neighboring doorsteps with the pencil and paper bags he dug out of the local dumpster.
Survival for Shilaimon meant working. He stopped attending school at 10-years old to begin carpentering. He only began attending school again at 15 when his family moved to the United States from Iraq via Greece, and he could wash dishes in the evenings and draw portraits for Disneyland on weekends.
Shilaimon’s life changed for the better in a classic American dream. He worked smart, he became recognized for his over-sized architectural dreamscapes, and he married Hanna. If a man’s true character is defined by the manner in which he speaks of the women in his life, Shilaiman proves himself a man of great personal integrity and commitment,
“Every day with Hanna is a good day. She brings me joy. She is the reason I get up in the morning. She is the reason I love life, and the reason I love what I do. Hanna brings a lot of joy to my art. Life is so much more precious to me now than it was 30 years ago.”
Always painting 2 to 3 paintings within a painting, Shilaimon begins by blocking in his subjects with thin layers of acrylic. He then applies up to 20 thin layers of oil paint in a complex glazing process rare in today’s hurry-up-and-dry business climate. The glazing process allows under-paintings to shine through top layers and glazing adds depth difficult to achieve in single layer processes. Paintings are generously sized at 48″ x 48″ or 48″ x 60″. Each large scale painting is completed in about a month.
Shilaimon began showing his work in Laguna Beach in 2000 at the now closed William Merrill Gallery and Martin McNabb Fine Art Gallery in San Diego. Showings of his architectural paintings are currently by private appointment only.
When Shilaimon is not painting, he is often found sketching in Laguna Beach under the gazebo at the south end of Heisler Park behind Las Brisas restaurant. Shilaimon’s advise to artists,
View James Shilaimon’s online gallery.
“Paint what you feel and enjoy it.”